All-purpose bread dough
Here’s the bread dough recipe I’ve been using for a while. I mostly use it for pizza crusts but it’s also great for loaves and rolls and a bunch of other stuff. It’s adapted from the simplest recipes and techniques in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. There is also a newer edition of the book although I haven’t seen what’s different in it.
- 3 cups warm water
- 1.5 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1.5 tbsp coarse salt (sea salt, kosher salt, etc.)
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup rye flour
Then add the flours and stir until of consistent hydration.
That’s it! Now you just let it rise for a while, and then tear off a hunk of the dough and use it for whatever you want. Keep it in the refrigerator; cover it tightly if you like it to get a beer-like aroma, otherwise leave it cracked open a bit and just make sure you keep on adding enough moisture every few days.
When I use it for pizza I preheat my oven to 550ºF (the hottest it will go; if your oven can go higher, go for it!), and tear off a chunk of dough (usually 150 grams or so), flour it with AP flour, and knead it until it’s nice and stretchy and pliable (this is mostly about warming it up, since the gluten develops as the dough sits in the refrigerator overnight; you can leave the dough out for an hour or two to make this go faster), then I form a crust (either by pinching it out to a disc, or by rolling it with a pin), then just put on my sauce and toppings and so on, then bake it for 9-10 minutes.
Another thing you can do is add some rosemary, chili flakes, and other such flavorings to the dough before you knead it, although this will make it harder to shape the crust.
For sauce I usually either use jarred marinara sauce, or a drizzle of flavored grapeseed oil, and then I put on whatever cheeses, toppings, etc. that I like. Last night it was ham, pepperoncini peppers, and anchovy on a marinara sauce base and mozzarella blend. Another combination I like is oil sauce, asiago + mozzarella, prosciutto and arugula. Sometimes I just do pepperoni. There’s really no limit to what you can put on.
For loaves, a 425ºF oven is the right temperature, and it’s helpful to set up a steam pan (read the book!) or to put it into a baking cloche or the like. The book also has plenty of shaping techniques. Also there’s plenty of dough recipes in there, and recipes of things to do with leftover bread.
The rule of thumb for remembering this recipe
I actually always do this dough from memory! The way I remember the proportions: it’s a bit over 2:1 flour:water (by volume), and every cup of water gets half a tablespoon each of salt and yeast. The flours are also in a 2:1 refined:whole ratio (you can actually use more refined and less whole wheat if you want, but I don’t recommend going the other way). Also, you don’t have to worry about getting it completely precise; you’re going to have to adjust the flour later anyway since humidity varies and the dough loses moisture as it ages and so on.
Also, the dough as made is going to be pretty wet. You’re almost certainly going to have to add more to it as you shape it, and if you plan on making a loaf you’re definitely going to have to add more. But it’s more art than science; you’re making a painting, not a titration. Remember, primitive people in every cradle of civilization could figure out how to do it without a cookbook, and so can you.